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- Evelina - 50/99 -
"So Miss Polly is not come yet!" said the simple swain: "well, I can't think where she can be! I've been looking, and looking, and looking all about, and can't find her all I can do."
"Well, but, Mr. Brown," said Mr. Smith, "sha'n't you go and look for the lady again?"
"Yes, Sir," said he, sitting down; "but I must rest me a little bit first. You can't think how tired I am."
"O fie, Mr. Brown, fie," cried Mr. Smith, winking at us, "tired of looking for a lady! Go, go, for shame!"
"So I will, Sir, presently; but you'd be tired too, if you had walked so far: besides, I think she's gone out of the garden, or else I must have seen something or other of her."
A he, he he! of the tittering Polly, now betrayed her, and so ended this ingenious little artifice.
At last appeared Mr. Branghton and Miss Biddy, who, with a face of mixed anger and confusion, addressing herself to me, said, "So, Miss, so you ran away from me! Well, see if I don't do as much by you some day or other! But I thought how it would be; you'd no mind to leave the gentlemen, though you run away from me."
I was so much surprised at this attack, that I could not answer her for very amazement; and she proceeded to tell us how ill she had been used, and that two young men had been making her walk up and down the dark walks by absolute force, and as fast as ever they could tear her along; and many other particulars, which I will not tire you with relating. In conclusion, looking at Mr. Smith, she said, "But to be sure, thought I, at least all the company will be looking for me; so I little expected to find you all here, talking as comfortably as ever you can. However, I know I may thank my cousin for it!"
"If you mean me, Madam," said I, very much shocked, "I am quite ignorant in what manner I can have been accessary to your distress."
"Why, by running away so. If you'd stayed with us, I'll answer for it Mr. Smith and M. Du Bois would have come to look for us; but I suppose they could not leave your ladyship."
The folly and unreasonableness of this speech would admit of no answer. But what a scene was this for Sir Clement! his surprise was evident; and I must acknowledge my confusion was equally great.
We had now to wait for young Branghton, who did not appear for some time; and during this interval it was with difficulty that I avoided Sir Clement, who was on the rack of curiosity, and dying to speak to me.
When, at last, the hopeful youth returned, a long and frightful quarrel ensued between him and his father, in which his sisters occasionally joined, concerning his neglect; and he defended himself only by a brutal mirth, which he indulged at their expense.
Every one now seemed inclined to depart,-when, as usual, a dispute arose upon the way of our going, whether in a coach or a boat. After much debating, it was determined that we should make two parties, one by the water and the other by land; for Madame Duval declared she would not, upon any account, go into a boat at night.
Sir Clement then said, that if she had no carriage in waiting, he should be happy to see her and me safe home, as his was in readiness.
Fury started into her eyes, and passion inflamed every feature, as she answered, "Pardi, no-you may take care of yourself, if you please; but as to me, I promise you I sha'n't trust myself with no such person."
He pretended not to comprehend her meaning; yet, to waive a discussion, acquiesced in her refusal. The coach-party fixed upon, consisted of Madame Duval, M. Du Bois, Miss Branghton, and myself.
I now began to rejoice, in private, that at least our lodgings would be neither seen nor known by Sir Clement. We soon met with a hackney-coach, into which he handed me, and then took leave.
Madame Duval having already given the coachman her direction, he mounted the box, and we were just driving off, when Sir Clement exclaimed, "By Heaven, this is the very coach I had in waiting for myself!"
"This coach, your honour!" said the man; "no, that it i'n't."
Sir Clement, however, swore that it was; and presently, the man, begging his pardon, said he had really forgotten that he was engaged.
I have no doubt but that this scheme occurred to him at the moment, and that he made some sign to the coachman, which induced him to support it; for there is not the least probability that the accident really happened, as it is most likely his own chariot was in waiting.
The man then opened the coach-door, and Sir Clement, advancing to it, said "I don't believe there is another carriage to be had, or I would not incommode you; but, as it may be disagreeable to you to wait here any longer, I beg you will not get out, for you shall be set down before I am carried home, if you will be so good as to make a little room."
And so saying, in he jumped, and seated himself between M. Du Bois and me, while our astonishment at the whole transaction was too great for speech. He then ordered the coachman to drive on, according to the directions he had already received.
For the first ten minutes no one uttered a word; and then, Madame Duval, no longer able to contain herself, exclaimed, "Ma foi, if this isn't one of the most impudentest things ever I see!"
Sir Clement, regardless of this rebuke, attended only to me; however I answered nothing he said, when I could possibly avoid so doing. Miss Branghton made several attempts to attract his notice, but in vain, for he would not take the trouble of paying her any regard.
Madame Duval, during the rest of the ride, addressed herself to M. Du Bois in French, and in that language exclaimed, with great vehemence, against boldness and assurance.
I was extremely glad when I thought our journey must be nearly at an end, for my situation was very uneasy to me, as Sir Clement perpetually endeavoured to take my hand. I looked out of the coach-window, to see if we were near home: Sir Clement, stooping over me, did the same; and then, in a voice of infinite wonder, called out, "Where the d-l is the man driving to?-Why we are in Broad Street, St. Giles's!"
"O, he's very right," cried Madame Duval, "so never trouble your head about that; for I sha'n't go by no directions of your's, I promise you."
When, at last, we stopped at an hosier's in High Holborn,-Sir Clement said nothing, but his eyes, I saw, were very busily employed in viewing the place, and the situation of the house. The coach, he said, belong to him, and therefore he insisted upon paying for it; and then he took leave. M. Du Bois walked home with Miss Branghton, and Madame Duval and I retired to our apartments.
How disagreeable an evening's adventure! not one of the party seemed satisfied, except Sir Clement, who was in high spirits: but Madame Duval was enraged at meeting with him; Mr. Branghton, angry with his children; the frolic of the Miss Branghtons had exceeded their plan, and ended in their own distress; their brother was provoked that there had been no riot; Mr. Brown was tired, and Mr. Smith mortified. As to myself, I must acknowledge, nothing could be more disagreeable to me, than being seen by Sir Clement Willoughby with a party at once so vulgar in themselves, and so familiar to me.
And you, too, my dear Sir, will, I know, be sorry that I have met him; however, there is no apprehension of his visiting here, as Madame Duval is far too angry to admit him.
EVELINA TO THE REV. MR. VILLARS. Holborn, June 18th.
MADAME DUVAL rose very late this morning, and, at one o'clock, we had but just breakfasted, when Miss Branghton, her brother, Mr. Smith, and Monsieur Du Bois, called to enquire after our healths.
The civility in young Branghton, I much suspect, was merely the result of his father's commands; but his sister and Mr. Smith, I soon found, had motives of their own. Scarce had they spoken to Madame Duval, when, advancing eagerly to me, "Pray, Ma'am," said Mr. Smith, "who was that gentleman?"
"Pray, cousin," cried Miss Branghton, "was not he the same gentleman you ran away with that night at the opera?"
"Goodness! that he was," said young Branghton, "and, I declare, as soon as ever I saw him, I thought I knew his face."
"I'm sure, I'll defy you to forget him," answered his sister, "if once you had seen him: he is the finest gentleman I ever saw in my life, don't you think so, Mr. Smith?"
"Why, you won't give the lady time to speak," said Mr. Smith.-"Pray, Ma'am, what is the gentleman's name?"
"Willoughby! I think I have heard the name. Pray, Ma'am, is he married?"
"Lord, no, that he is not," cried Miss Branghton; "he looks too smart by a great deal for a married man. Pray, cousin, how did you get acquainted with him?"
"Pray, Miss," said young Branghton, in the same breath, "what's his business?"
"Indeed I don't know," answered I.
"Something very genteel, I dare say," added Miss Branghton, "because he dresses so fine."
"It ought to be something that brings in a good income" said Mr. Smith; "for I'm sure that he did not get that suit of clothes he had on under thirty or forty pounds; for I know the price of clothes pretty
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